Why Dez Bryant has an incentive to sit out games and forfeit millions of dollars to get a new contract from the Cowboys

Dez Bryant wants a big, long-term contract from the Dallas Cowboys.

Thus far, the Cowboys haven’t relented, instead offering Bryant the $US12.8 million, one-year franchise tender, which he has yet to sign.

After reports that Bryant was threatening to sit out of training camp and possibly games if he doesn’t get paid, Bryant made it official by tweeting that he will “not be there” if he doesn’t get a deal by Wednesday (the last day to give franchise-tagged players a multiyear extension):

Nobody is quite sure what “not be there” means. Is Bryant referring to missing training camp? Missing training campĀ and preseason? Would he actually miss games? The common belief is that Bryant wouldn’t actually sit out regular season games, as he’d lose about $US750,000 for each game missed.

However, according to ProFootball Talk’s Mike Florio, Bryant actually has some incentive to miss games if he thinks it will ultimately force the Cowboys to give him a new contract.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, Bryant has until the Tuesday after Week 10 to sign the franchise tender and play games. If that date comes and goes without Bryant signing, he’ll miss the whole season. As Florio reports, Bryant could sit out until Week 10, sign the tender, and still make $US5.25 million for the remaining six weeks — more than double what he made last season, according to Spotrac.

Threatening to sit out games and forfeit some of that $US12.8 million creates leverage for Bryant to get a long-term deal by Wednesday’s deadline. Even if the Cowboys refuse to budge, he would still receive a bigger paycheck than he did in years past for six weeks of work.

The more extreme option would be for Bryant to sit out the whole season. As Florio notes (though the CBA is language is confusing and an argument could be made for the opposite) even if Bryant sits out the whole season and doesn’t sign the franchise tender, he could still get a 20% raise next season if the Cowboys once again offer him the franchise tender. For Bryant, if worst comes to worst, he could miss the 2015 season and sign an even higher franchise tender next season and play out the year. Or, by sitting out the 2015 season, he could show the Cowboys he’s serious about getting a new contract, thus forcing them to budge and get a long-term deal done.

There’s inherent risk in all of this for Bryant. Nobody wants to skip games and he’d be losing money in the short term. Additionally, if the Cowboys don’t offer him a long-term deal, he may be forced to play on the franchise tag and go through this whole process again next summer.

It’s a staring contest for both sides, and if Wednesday passes without a long-term deal, the Cowboys will see how serious Bryant is about getting a new deal.

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